Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Life is an accumulation of memories

Baby’s first steps. Graduations. Birthday parties. Wedding ceremonies. Today’s title came from a friend of mine– “That’s what life is; an accumulation of memories”– during a recent conversation; and it got me onto to thinking about Deep Things.. and yes, I took a little stroll down my own Memory Lane…

But this is, after all, a tech site, and I am a World Renown Tech Journalist, and so I will not get all nostalgic on you, nor ‘share’ some of my favorite recollections. No, I won’t. But I will point out to you that more and more frequently, we are coming to rely on our computers to help us ‘remember’.

What do I mean by that? Well, now that we have digital photography, the odds are pretty good that the pictures you take — of baby’s first steps, graduation, B-Day parties, etc. –are not in a shoebox, or photo album, but are on your hard drive. Your “home movies” too.
Perhaps your computer is the only place you have those pictures/memories.

Tip of the day: Loyal Friends and True to this series know that once a month I remind my readers to make a backup copy of their important files (Ahem), and to store those copies someplace else. That’s because hard drives fail. (Not all that often, I grant you that, but they do die.. and not just from old age.) They can also get corrupted by malware, or erased by a virus or hacker, or…

If — for some bizarre and mysterious reason — your computer (or, just the hard drive) croaked and started pushing up daisies, would you lose the only pictures you have of Junior’s birth? Of your hard-earned graduation? Of your Grandmother?

Well, don’t let your heart get broken because you just “never got around” to making backup copies. Make copies today! Burn some CD’s/DVD’s and one other form of storage– another (external, maybe) hard drive, or perhaps online.

To help you, I refer you to two prior articles–
1) Windows has a built-in Backup Utility, found in Programs> Accessories> System Tools and my advice for using it is here, https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/07/02/automate-your-backup-and-get-some-peace-of-mind/ 

2) Instead of buying an external drive, you might prefer to take advantage of an online storage service.. of which there are many. My article on selecting one is here, https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2008/04/26/online-storage-for-data-backup/

Folks.. there are many, many reasons to make backup copies, and one reason not to (can you guess what it is?).

Today’s free link: Perhaps you would like a backup tool other than Windows’ own.. SyncBack is worth taking a look at. From C/Net Editor review, “This straightforward backup utility makes it a snap to safeguard and synchronize your files, and its freeware price just sweetens the deal. Surprisingly flexible for a free program, SyncBack can save your files anywhere: on external hard drives, in ZIP archives, on network drives, on CDs (using UDF), or transfer them via FTP. Recovering from a drive loss is also cinch, with a convenient restore tool that replicates folder trees along with the files in them.”

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 7, 2008 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, how to, PC, security, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

System Restore/ID Theft/Startup programs

“System Restore won’t work”, “I’m worried about ID Theft, how do I know if an email is legit?”, “I can’t get this #$*& program out of my Startup folder” — these are examples of some of the questions I have received since posting my articles on these topics. Today I’m going to review, and provide more solutions and answers.

Tip of the day: Since I’m going to cover the questions above, there is not going to be a single “Tip of the day” today. Instead, there will be “Today’s three questions”…
More on System Restore: What to do when System Restore just refuses to work. As I mentioned in my first System Restore post, SR simply is not a failsafe miracle worker. There are troubles that can occur that it simply does not repair — such as a corrupted SAM database. It is however a good place to start. It does undo a lot of the damage you can accidentally do to your machine. This fact is why you should always make a back up of your system — either a “disk image” made with a 3rd-party utility like Acronis True Image, or Norton Ghost, and/or Windows Backup Utility (Start >Programs >Accessories >System tools >Backup).
I stated in the prior article, and will repeat here, that you may have to repeat the System Restore process several times before one “snapshot” finally takes. When you use SR, you will see a calendar with available snapshots in bold dates. You should see several. Start with the most recent date and time, and work your way backwards. If you have done this with no luck, you probably have one of those troubles System Restore is not designed for. Either look elsewhere for solutions, or call for some Tech Support (we Tech Support folks need to make a living too, you know).

Legit vs. Phishing: “how do I know if an email is legit?” In my post about the rocket scientist, I discussed phishing and recommended an anti-phishing site toolbar, which combats a form of phishing called “pharming“.
I suggest you take no chances with emails. Simply do not click on links in emails. Also, realize that your bank will not send you links. They know about phishing, and they figure you already know their URL (you should have it bookmarked, so use that…or call them directly). Also be aware that just because an email claims to be from a friend or relative, doesn’t mean that it is. If you are not expecting an attachment.exe “executable” (application) or “you gotta see this!” .jpg from Uncle Fred, by all means don’t open it! Email him and ask him, “did you send me a..?” It is an easy thing for an Evil Doer to spoof a Sender address.
And finally, make sure your antivirus definitions are up to date. If it is not already on by default, open your antivirus’ Options and look in “Update Options” for “Download and install new definitions automatically” (or words to that effect) and make sure it’s selected. If available, have it set to scan email and email attachments as well. (If it’s not, consider switching to the free Avast! or AVG antivirus programs..)

Removing stubborn start up programs: If the methods I described in “My Startup folder is a clown car” proved insufficient for getting rid of a really determined program, there are three more methods you can try. The first is to read my Manage your Startup programs; second is msconfig, and the last is editing the Registry.
If these easy methods in the article didn’t do the trick, start by opening the msconfig utility. Click Start >Run and type in “msconfig” (no quotes), and then click on the Startup tab. Here you will see a list of the programs scheduled to start when Windows boots. Uncheck the checkbox next to the program you are having the troubles with. You will need to restart your system for the changes to take effect.

The second method, editing the Registry, is for advanced users who are comfortable treading in such risky waters. Changes made to the Registry are immediate, and there’s no “undo” feature. If you feel you are determined to dive in, please create a Restore Point before starting and back up the Registry to a .txt file first. Please read (or re-familiarize yourself with) Microsoft’s detailed how-to here. They Key you’ll be working with is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Run.
But please: this is not for the inexperienced. Do not try this without reading and understanding what editing the Registry is about, and what damage one mistake can do. First use the aforementioned methods and please consider simply using Add/Remove Programs to “retire” the troublesome program altogether…or try a program like StartUp Cop.

Today’s free link(s): I am satisfied with this freeware Startup manager: Ashampoo StartUp Tuner 2.

If you have been a victim of a phish, have been clicking unsolicited links willy-nilly, or let a window that magically popped open one day “scan your computer to remove infections”.. or just want to know your scores — get a free credit report , and find out if you’re the only “you” accessing your credit.
[Note: I believe it is worth it to have your credit reports monitored.. which is not a free service. For $5/month, I use , which monitors the big three report companies.]

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 9, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, security, software, System Restore, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment